The china isn’t just for food

Showcase individual plates you've collected here and there by tucking one or two into a...
(SHNS photo courtesy Nell Hill's)
Story by Mary Carol Garrity
(Scripps Howard News Service)
Fri, Mar 2, 2012
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If the only time you see your china plates and platters is when they’re filled with food, you’re missing out on a sensational decorating tool. Wash off those gorgeous works of art, and use them in your everyday decor. Here are three ideas to get you started:

1. Hang plates and platters just like art

Whether you have a full set of beautiful patterned dishes you never use or a number of unique singles, hang them on the wall to transform your artwork displays. The round shape and curved edges of dishes do wonders for breaking up a sea of square or rectangle artwork, adding texture and dimension.

Showcase a few individual plates by tucking one or two into a montage of artwork that crawls up the wall, down the hall or over the doorway. Or, fan similarly sized dishes around a central piece of art, like a painting, mirror or even a hunting trophy.

Sometimes more is less ... and sometimes more is better, like when you pick out a number of great plates and group them together to create a dramatic display. Don’t hang them in rows; instead, place them randomly. This approach is easy on the eye, and easy to create — no measuring, no stress.

When you’re amassing a large grouping of plates, play with the design. You may be drawn to a grid with crisp lines and rows. Or, you may prefer the plates take on a shape of their own, like a circle or oval. If your display is less structured, include a variety of sizes and mix finer pieces with those that are less expensive.

2. Use plates and platters as layering tools in displays

Another trick is to incorporate artwork into the background for vertical height. Plates propped in easels are the perfect layering tool.

Get a few easels and add a plate here and there in a variety of places throughout your home. Include one in the display on a mantel. Stick one on a side table, an entry table or a nightstand, paired with other accents. Or build a display out of plates alone, layering a variety of sizes and styles together.

Who says storage has to be boring and utilitarian? When you are filling a hutch or china cabinet with dishes and serving pieces, prop a few plates on end to make the arrangement look like art. Rest single plates on easels as backdrops or layer several together, placing the largest plate or platter in the background and working your way forward, with the smallest in front.

3. Put plates and platters to work as trays

Since plates and platters were designed to hold food, why not put them to work in your home holding other stuff? I think displays look most lovely when they are grounded on a tray or platter of some type. What better use can you find for an amazing platter than putting it out where everyone can see? On top of my coffee-table ottoman, you’ll find a large wooden tray. Perched on top of that is a beautiful blue-and-white platter.

The platter holds a silver vase that I like to fill with flowers when I entertain. The display is simple, yet looks stunning.

Dishes of all sizes and shapes also make excellent organizational tools. A shallow bowl atop a stack of books is an excellent spot to stick a cellphone and car keys. Where could you use a bowl or plate to fill with odds and ends? Maybe you could put a hand-painted plate in your powder room to hold soaps, or a platter on an entry table to collect outgoing mail. Put little saucers or sorbet cups on a desk to fill with paperclips. The options are endless.

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